Crescenta Valley High honors its best athletes in 2012 Hall of Fame ceremony

SUNLAND — There were plenty of memories, laughs and tears shed between those that gathered for the Crescenta Valley High Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday evening.

The number of Falcons inductees – be them coaches, athletes or entire teams – in the school's hall grew to 38, as Kerry Zwart-Bell, Lauren Hawthorne, Paul Steinbacher, Dr. Nada Kawar, Dale Sweeney, Darrin Beer, Scott Harper, Dan Berry and the 1986 CIF championship softball team were ushered in Saturday at the Angeles National Golf Club.

"To me, I think this is a great night," said Crescenta Valley High Athletic Hall of Fame committee member and emcee of the night Ken Biermann. "We love the area, we love the school, the people who have come through our school and we like to honor them."

Berry was honored posthumously after starting the Falcons softball program in 1983 and coaching it for 27 years.

"CV was his family, that's what he did, that's what he breathed," said Jenny Berry Shaver, Berry's daughter and a member of the 1986 championship team. "He would be very, very proud tonight – smiling ear to ear, dimples and all. We just appreciate it so much and we will always follow CV softball."

It only took four years for Berry, who died in October at age 65, to build the team into CIF a champion. The Falcons captured 20 Pacific League titles under Berry's watch.

"Coach Berry's passion was helping other people succeed in life – not softball, but life," said Peter Kim, CV girls' athletic director. "His abilities included obviously softball, as well as getting the best out of his players."

The 1986 Falcons softball team captured the CIF title with a 5-4 win over Woodbridge. It was the first and only CIF championship for the program.

Zwart-Bell won the state championship in the shot put in 1978 and also took home CIF and Masters titles that year. She went on to capture CIF and Masters crowns in the long jump in 1979. Thereafter, she earned All-American honors in the pentathlon at USC and holds the school record in that event.

"I believe she is the very best girl athlete I've ever coached," said former CV track and field Coach Keith Gilliland of Zwart-Bell.

Kawar was a standout in her own right, making a mark in basketball and track and field. Kawar made the biggest impact in the shot put for the Falcons before she picked up a scholarship to UCLA and went on to represent her home country of Jordan in the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics.

Sweeney was an all-league and All-CIF water polo standout in 1976, as he guided the team to the CIF finals.

Harper was also a boys' water polo standout, as he picked up CIF Player of the Year honors for the Falcons after scoring 128 goals in 1976.

Beer was an All-CIF pitcher and Pacific League MVP on the Falcons' baseball team in 1985. He went on to play for USC, where he holds records for appearances and games started, and has been the pitching coach for CV since 1991.

Steinbacher was an anchor at nose guard for the defense of Crescenta Valley's CIF championship football team in 1973, as he earned all-league and All-CIF honors that year.

"What he and that defense accomplished, it's still the greatest CV's ever, ever had," said Steinbacher's presenter, Dennis Gossard, a longtime Falcons assistant.

Hawthorne holds the school record for most victories in girls' tennis, as she went 216-16 in doubles.

"She became the finest tennis player in CV history," said former girls' tennis Coach Tom Gossard. "She never missed a minute of practice, either, that makes her a hall of famer. … She did it on her own with her own work ethic."

Hawthorne was a part of four straight Pacific League championship teams from 2000-2003 and won league doubles titles and was All-CIF from 2001-2003.

"It's great to be a Falcon and all of this is one of the best examples why," Hawthorne said. "CV and the surrounding community celebrates the achievements of its student athletes. CV athletics brings together not only the campus but the community."

While honoring former standout CV athletes from more than 30 years ago, Biermann reminded the audience there are future hall of fame Falcons in the making.

"The tradition of success continues," Biermann said. "Our boys' soccer and boys' swimming teams were each CIF champions this year."

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